Skip to main content

Theft of Movable Property 2C:20-3

Posted by attorney Kenneth Vercammen


N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a)

If someone is criminally indicted for theft, at trial the judge will read to the jurors the following jury instructions of the law:

The following charge is to be used when the factual circumstances indicate an unlawful taking of personal property and the value of the property is in dispute. In other instances, reference must be made to 2C:20-2b to determine the degree of theft. See Charge # 2.291 on GRADATION OF THEFT

OFFENSES. Note that 2C:20-2b(2) makes some offenses of the third degree regardless of the value of the property).

The indictment charges the defendant with (here read the indictment) .

The statute on which the indictment is based is 2C:20-3a which reads in its pertinent part as follows:

A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises

control over movable property of another with purpose to

deprive him thereof.

(If appropriate, here define "movable property, "property" and "property of another.")

You cannot find the defendant guilty unless you determine that the State has proven the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

First, the State must prove that the defendant unlawfully took (here describe property listed in indictment). In order to prove an unlawful taking, the State need not prove that the property was carried out of the place in which it was kept, but only that it was moved or taken from its original location. If the defendant is found with the stolen property shortly after it was taken, charge the jury that it may draw an inference that the defendant took the property).

Second, the State must prove that at the time the defendant took this property (his/her) purpose was to deprive the owner of the (here describe property). With regard to the requirement of proof of a purpose to deprive another of (his/her) property, you are instructed that a person acts purposely with respect to the nature of (his/her) conduct or a result thereof if it is (his/her) conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result. In other words, in order for you to find that the defendant acted purposely, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time the defendant took the property it was (his/her) conscious object to deprive (the owner) of (describe property).

(If appropriate, insert relevant portions of the following definition.)

"Deprive" means (1) to withhold (or cause to be withheld) property of another permanently or for so extended a period as to appropriate a substantial portion of its economic value...or, (2) to dispose (or cause disposal) of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it).

Thus, if you find after a careful consideration of all of the evidence that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements as I have explained them, then your verdict should be guilty.

However, if the State has not proven each of the elements described above to your satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt, then your verdict should be not guilty.

1 N.J.S.A. 2C:20-1e - "Movable Property" means property the location of which can be changed,

including things growing on, affixed to, or found in land, and documents, although the rights

represented thereby have no physical location. Unless the character of the property unlawfully taken

is in dispute, the Court may instruct the jury that the property so taken is "(movable) property" under

the statute.

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-1g - "Property" means anything of value including real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, trade secrets, contract rights, chooses-in-action and other interests in or claims to wealth, admission or transportation tickets, captured or domestic animals, food and drink, electric, gas, steam or other power.

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-1b - "Property of Another" includes property in which any person other than the actor has an interest which the actor is not privileged to infringe, regardless of the fact that the actor also has an interest in the property....

2 See Supplementary Note to this Charge; State v. Dancyger, 29 N.J. 76 (1959).

3 When the defendant is found to be in possession of the stolen property within a short time after the theft, see supplement attached to this charge.

More info at\_of\_movable\_property.htm\_of\_movable\_property.htm

Author of this guide:

Was this guide helpful?

Recommended articles about Criminal defense

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer